Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Paradox of Good Friday…



When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminalsone on his right, the other on his left.  Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Luke 23:33-34 (NIV)


         

No one is clear on the origins of the phrase “Good Friday,” but I can appreciate the paradox. God became man, took upon Himself the sins of the world, knowing that our redemption could only be assured by blood sacrifice. As Paul wrote in his letter to Ephesus,

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…Ephesians 1:7 (NIV)




I have my own Good Friday paradox. My memory for some facts and events, at least among my family and friends, is legendary. I do not remember the date of my grandfather’s passing, after a long brave battle with a thoracic aortic aneurysm, except to say that is was on the morning of Good Friday. As I prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection each year, my joy in tempered by personal sadness. I celebrate God’s victory over the grave while suffering the personal and lingering pain of profound loss. It was the only Easter I did not commemorate in corporate worship, remaining at home instead, steeling myself to walk into the very sanctuary in which we should have worshipped, instead preparing to say a final goodbye.


This year Good Friday falls on what would have been my dad’s 80th birthday. Birthdays are good, but as time passes, I mark yet another year without the sound of his voice, the warmth of his embrace, questions he’ll ever answer, conversations we’ll never share. Though I prepare for great joy to come on Sunday, the paradox of Good Friday is clear to me.


My personal joy comes in the blessed assurance that my sorrowful goodbyes are not the end of the story, and I would not have that assurance without the Passion of the Cross. My personal Good Friday paradox is a study in Grace. My personal Good Friday paradox is a lesson in faith. If I believe, then even through my tears, I do not weep like those who have no hope. 


"Dear Lord, I come before You humbled by the sacrifice You made for me by giving up Your one and only Son so that I could have a relationship with You." Lord, thank you for Redemption. Thank You for Grace. Thank You that though I miss my father and grandfather, I appreciate the sacrifice, as it takes me back to Your great gift. Like You with Your Only Begotten Son, I have not said the last goodbye. In You, through You, I can say through my tears...
Dad, Papa-‘tll we meet again, Happy Easter.
Today I'm linking with Deidra Riggs at the Sunday Community

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

When you’ve got nothing to say…


It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
Deuteronomy 13:4 (NIV)


When I began writing, I relied upon God to grant me the words. Only then would I write. I start with scripture to remain grounded, to ensure my message stays connected, to ensure that my message is bigger than me. (To ensure that it isn’t about me). When words won’t come, I cannot force them. It never comes out right. You see, they aren’t my words. I believe the words are a gift I must share. So when I’ve got nothing to say, I don’t.

Lately, the conversation online has been around the writers inclination to become distracted by traffic (or the lack thereof), page views (or the lack thereof), the number of followers or FB likes we receive (or long for). I am human. I covet (there, I said it). But, since I can’t make traffic, and since I cannot interfere with the Will of God, I have learned (I am learning) to be patient. I don’t like being patient, but I am clear that God’s Will is larger than what I like. His Plans are better and I’m bound to follow them. It does not mean I don’t occasionally wander away from His Path, but He does always gently bring me back. 
When you've got nothing
to say, you should be silent.
CLICK AND TWEET SOME ENCOURAGEMENT

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Broken (Five Minute Friday)


Broken (Five Minute Friday)

Mi familia, my writing sisters and I, my  tribe, we stay up way too late to write en masse. We start with one word and it’s off to the races. It’s not easy, and we have rules. You should try it sometime, or at least read what my lovelies put on the page.  Welcome to Five Minute Friday. STOP, DROP, and WRITE!!!

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking (harder than it sounds)
2. Link back 
here and invite others to join in.
3. Visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? Come on and join the fun!


The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 (NASB)

GO:

Broken. This is easy. I used to be afraid of broken. I used to bemoan days when I felt broke down, but never admitted to being broken. I believed broken was a bad thing. Broken is the best thing that ever happened to me.

I used to be afraid of being broken
until God showed me that
Broken was beautiful.
I didn’t have a OneWord for last year, but when I looked back over the last 12 months of my life, I realized that the word was surrendered. And then, in December, it came to me; fully formed; all in one thought. The next level, the deeper state of Grace I was seeking, came in admitting that I was BROKEN. Irreparably BROKEN. And broken is beautiful. 

Broken was the place at which I meet God anew. Broken was the point in my life where I admitted, forever, that I was nothing without Him. Nothing. Broken was the point at which I realized that I could go on, but could never go forward without this Grace. Without this admission. Without this realization.

Broken bread fed more than a single load could. Broken pieces are useless without a powerful force knitting them back together. Broken people do not go on without The One. I used to be afraid of being broken until God showed me that Broken was beautiful.

STOP:


I'm linking up with Lisa Jo Baker, the Christian Mommy Bloggers and with Laura at Missional Women

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Weary


My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. 
Psalm 62:1 (NASB)


When I have pushed too hard, rested not enough, carried more than I should, I feel tired. I know tired. Tired means taking time to rest. Tired puts her feet up. Tired takes a warm bath and goes to bed early. Today I am not tired. Today I am weary.

Weary feels like too much broken glass, shards flying everywhere. Weary spills tears without warning. Weary craves quiet, while tired doesn’t so much mind the din. Tired appreciates the blue of midday skies, weary is just plain blue. 


I’m hearing Billie Holliday in my head, “Good morning, heartache.” Billie could turn a phrase, speaking to pain like an intruder in the room. I don’t want to talk to my blues, I want them gone.
I’m just wallowing in being human. Lately, I am paralyzed by my humanness.  My soul knows that all is well, and that the peace that passes understanding soon comes, but right now I need a break.  I’ve grown weary. Weary is an empty cup, and Lord I beg You for an infilling.

In my weariness, I will be silent. Lord, send me stillness so I can hear from you. There has been too much noise, and I am way past tired. My soul finds rest in You alone, Lord, so with the last ounce of strength I believe I have, I run to You. Even in my weariness…

On Thursdays, I pray and and play with friends here...

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Motherhood as a state of Grace…(the threshing floor)


Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
Psalms 127:3 (NLT)

My Gayle and I were talking about the frustrations of motherhood this morning. It is a popular theme among my friends. We are high achievers. We like to do things well. We have spectacular mothers, and struggle with doing and being to our own children what they are to us; despite our world being vastly different than theirs…but we try. 
we should treat our children
(loved ones, friends, the world),
like Jesus treats us.
  Motherhood is the ultimate expression of WWJD…
TWEET SOME LOVE
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

typical and ordinary...


You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is  a broken spirit;

    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.
Psalms 51:16-17 (NIV)

I left typical living behind nearly 5 years ago. Atypical is better. Five years ago I lived the life I’d imagined; an interesting and vibrant career, volunteer opportunities within my community, a little money to burn, easy children, a healthy husband, not too much, but more than enough reason to feel blessed. I still feel blessed, but I left typical living behind nearly 5 years ago. 

Without warning, life dumped me on my head. Hearing my granny’s voice, I reminded myself that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I picked myself up, squared my shoulders, brushed the dust off my bruised ego and, walking away from the ashes of my former life, reinvented myself. I like me better now. It’s not that old me wasn’t wonderful; she was merely untested. I’ve had tests. Now I have testimonies. 

Do I see God in the middle of the small and ordinary? Daily. Sometimes moment by moment. Without the distractions of my so-called typical life, I see more God because I pay greater attention. It is not that He wasn’t always there; surely He Abides. I did not maintain sufficient clarity and closeness to consistently pay attention. Sometimes God prunes us in order to prepare for blooming.  Occasionally, God choses to take what might seem like everything away that we might remember from whence our provisions and our God-sized dreams come. I am changed. I never want to live typical again.

What I couldn’t know was that He’d break me first.  I had more of some things to give 5 years ago, the burnt offerings I thought He’d desire. He wanted me. Broken. More than just surrendered, stilled, leaning on His Everlasting Arms.  Things that I’d seen before looked different, because I was seeing differently. Things I’d heard before I heard again.
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Submitting to obedience


And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
2 John 1:6 (NIV)

According to whatChristiansknow.com,
How does one actively engage in the presence of God?
By becoming obedient. By lovingly, involuntarily walking in
obedience to His commands.
And finding joy therein.
CLICK, TWEET, SHARE
The Biblical word for “obey” comes from the Greek “hupakou” which means to listen attentively; by implication to heed or conform to a command or authority. This word conveys the idea of actively following a command. There is no choice in the matter, it is to be done whether one agrees with it or not. Obedience is involuntary.

Submission is a choice, albeit not a simple one. Submission comes of recognizing the incontrovertible sovereignty of God, and acknowledging that His is The Way. Submission was not easy, but I have embraced it, and thrive therein. I spend my days in worshipful submission, and it is good.

But I wanted to go deeper. So, when our pastor called for a 7 day Daniel Fast in corporate consecration before Holy Week, I was in. I wanted to go deeper. I heeded the call to be obedient, and as I approach the final day, I declare this call a rich blessing.

I know this experience is different for me. Except for close friends and family, I didn’t discuss it. It wasn’t about impressing anybody, or letting anybody know, it was about heeding a call to obey. To be part of something larger than me. To truly be part of the Ecclesia, making of myself an offering, to see what might be learned.

I earnestly asked God to enlarge my territory. But faith is more than the ask. Faith is relational. So, what am I willing to render? I pledge my love, by way of walking in obedience. It was only a step, but bless God, I made it. As I approach the last day of this commitment, I am content. Not once did I consider wavering. Not once did I consider taking a shortcut. As I planned my menus and those for my family (I fasted alone), I prayerfully considered the bounty and provision that allowed me to choose and be creative. I ate things I hadn’t eaten in a very long time; and tried several things for the first time. Crafting my menus was an act of worshipful obedience. Shopping for and preparing food was a sacred act.  Would that I could carry this into the rest of my life.

What would you render? For what are you willing to submit to obedience? Is it in pursuit of a particular goal, the achievement of a singular dream? Or, is it simply a desire to go deeper? I wanted to go deeper. I was willing to submit to obedience to improve my relationship with The One. I walk away with a sense of accomplishment, and a desire to stay close; to move closer.

Just the other day, in checking in on the commitments I made for the year, I wrote this…
Lord, let me evolve to the place where I am not thinking about but actively engaging in Your Presence. Consistently. Once, I called it hiding, and promised that you’ll still be able to see me. Well, I’ve changed my mind. I’m moving. I’m moving into actively practicing the presence of God. And I’m staying….

How does one actively engage in the presence of God? By becoming obedient. By lovingly, involuntarily walking in obedience to His commands. And finding joy therein.

And so, may His Grace, Mercy, and Peace be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Son of the Father, in truth and love, Amen.
On Mondays, I pray and play with friends here...


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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Only God…(a reprint, just because)


God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them..
Genesis 1:27 (NASB95)

(whom do you write for? why do you do what you do?)


I had every intention of participating in FMF today, particularly after last week. However, during my morning prayers/AM exercise/dog walk, something came into my head that had to get out.  It wasn’t what I’d planned to write, and that may be part of it. I don’t plan to write. It comes, and then has to get out-whispered words from The Universe that must be shared. Here goes… (Dedicated to and inspired by CD, with profound gratitude)

Gya Nyame Presence of God, or “God alone”
The Adinkra symbol Gye Nyame is on a ring 
I have always worn on my right hand. Adinkra symbols, 
originating in Ghana, West Africa symbolize virtues, 
folk tales and proverbs, animals, and even historical events.  
Most are very old, having been passed down through generations of craftsmen.
Yesterday I had a long conversation with a wise and generous stranger, whom I pray will become a mentor and friend, about my writing. She challenged me to think about to whom and for whom I write. A logical and straightforward question; one posed often by writers to broaden their reach, enlarge their territory, strike it rich. Who is your audience? You should know who reads your words if you want them to do so regularly, embracing your efforts, supporting your endeavors, be friends, subscribers, people who buy your books.  My answer wasn’t quite what I anticipated.  You see, I write for me.

Who am I? I am an American woman (African-American).  I married my first love nearly 20 years ago, and am fortunate to have brought forth and raised with him two extraordinary people (our daughter and son) who changed our lives and will change the world. At nearly 50 I have a living mother and grandmother, and though my father died nearly 15 years ago, he still looms large and hovers close, as his guiding spirit informs my writing. Dad, even now, I measure words with you in mind.

Who am I? There is an essay or a book on that very subject which I will never write, because for all that I reveal I am perfectly content to be a bit of a cipher, among other things.  (By the way, there is an essay or book for everyone who has ever asked the question, Who am I? It’s so not about me.) But as to the question, who am I? I am flawed and frail, but made in the Perfect Image of God. I write for everybody (me).

It then occurred to me along this prayerexercisedogwalk, that God is our mirror. Wikipedia defines mirror as something which “reflects light or sound in a way that preserves much of its original.”  Mirrors do not change (nor does God) but what we bring to mirrors (physically, spiritually) greatly informs the images we see. Our images in the mirror will change over time, but the mirror never will. Believing that we were created in the image of God, we are all the same.  That’s why I write (for me). I write for God.

CD, when and if you’re reading this, know that I am off to develop a marketing plan, and to think more about how to do what I’d like to do next. And finally, know that I am forever indebted to you for the good you put into the Universe in my direction. I will pay if forward.

Yesterday I had a long conversation with a wise and generous stranger. She blessed and challenged me. I am excited and encouraged; renewed. Now I have to figure out how to get my words in front of the people I’d like to read them. To embrace them.  To be transformed by them, as they transform me. I’ve got a lot to do, and that “having a lot to do” is today’s lesson.  Today’s evidence that God is Good.

Today I am praying and playing with Sandra Heska King in StillSaturday... 
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Friday, March 22, 2013

Re-checking the list; checking in…


Plans fail for lack of counsel,
    but with many advisers they succeed.
Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

Before the end of last year, I pledged to be better; more intentional; more consistent, by creating a list and making myself accountable. I also pledged to put it out there, to declare it to the Universe, just I case anyone was listening.  As I mentioned at my last check in, in some areas I’ve made consistent progress, but as always, Lord knows I have work to do.

As I said originally, this commitment is so much larger than just doing things better. I want to stretch towards my God-granted potential. It’s time. I understand the Prayer of Jabez differently, and cannot afford to spend time wasting in my comfort zone. He numbers our days, but we are not privy to the number. It is, therefore, our obligation to live the best of our lives every day.   

1-Always a roast chicken in the fridge-RETIRED
I have retired the first item on my list. It’s become a consistent habit, and I am proud.

                1- Always pause before speaking, breathe more, talk less, and consciously stop interrupting.
Two, three, and four have become one, under the heading of listening better. Just this week, I had a conversation with my beautiful, wise, and wonderful first born. She was expressing some frustration with being understood, and I remembered the words of Steven Covey,
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Image borrowed from here
which you should read,

image by D Sharon Pruit

It was good advice for her, and it’s great advice for me. Learning to be a better listener is not just practical; there is also a spiritual component. If I am listening to the One, I must be still, silent, surrendered, and humbled. So, let’s make that number 2.
2- Remember to be still, silent, surrendered, and humble.

The last time I checked my list, I only dealt with the first 4. Looking at the balance, I need to refocus; I’ve got work to do.
3-Keep my living room clean (this needs WORK)
Granny would have a piece of me if she walked into my house right now. I’ve allowed the kids to drop and run, and we’re all guilty. When someone stops in unexpectedly, I immediately feel tense, and embarrassed. It’s not a good feeling, and it doesn’t take much to get it in right. Having a clean entryway shapes first impressions, and mine need work. I am at ease when there is order, and I am out of order. I commit to making this a priority.

4-Meditate, with my body at rest, at least 30 minutes daily.
I have not made the kind of time for myself, for my spirit, that benefits me or my family. I am still not good at slowing down, but have reaped the benefits of rest. I want more. I still pray and meditate while walking the dog each morning, but that’s moving meditation. I need still meditation because that is good for all of me, mind, body, spirit, and I’m going to get about it.

5-Actively practice the presence of God (more, more, MORE)
I’ve grown here, but I can never grow enough. Lord, let me evolve to the place where I am not thinking about but actively engaging in Your Presence. Consistently. Once, I called it hiding, and promised that you’ll still be able to see me. Well, I’ve changed my mind. I’m moving. I’m moving into actively practicing the presence of God. And I’m staying….

6-Organize at least one thing every month (EPIC FAIL)
I just have not made this a priority; I’ve got to do better. No excuses. I do have great advice from Holley Gerth on making changes to my life. Read the book, but remember this, “don’t go big, go smaller…

7- Remember that although life is scary, pray, breathe, and dance anyway; oh and anything that doesn’t defeat you ISN’T scary. (in progress)
Last year taught me surrender. I came away blessedly broken, reminded forever that it’s not possible to do it alone (without God AND without a supportive and loving community). I also came away with a sense of humor, so much strength, and a sense of fierceness that will not be denied. DANCE ANYWAY. Fear absolutely IS NOT the opposite of faith. DANCE ANYWAY. Deuteronomy 9:3 reminds us to “…be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire.” Daddy is ALL THAT, so you just dance. DANCE ANYWAY. We should focus on being faithful, even in our fear. DANCE ANYWAY. Fear is bad when it paralyzes you. It is bad when it threatens to separate you from the Love of God. He loves us even when we are afraid. Fear is powerful when it can motivate you, so, we need to remember to stay close.
7- Run three times a week.
It’s good for me, and I pray will I do it. Good for body and soul, literally. Easy peasy, done.

8- Consciously build community.
Joining the God-Sized Dream Team (which you should go and meet here), taught me the crucial, critical necessity of NOT REMAINING ISOLATED. I am committed to building my community, both where I can see it, and extending my network, under the heading of enlarging my territory.

9- Finish the book.
I’ve been consistently writing, and have about the first third done. I’m simultaneously writing a book proposal, since, having done my research, know that most non-fiction books get picked up, by agents, based upon my research. I can be done by the end of the year, but here’s a stretch goal…can I get an agent before the end of the year?

10-Remember, God is in control, Not you.
Thankfully, every day, this is my prayer. EVERY DAY.  I won’t be taking this off my list. And I will be leaving this prayer here, for me, for you, for anyone praying, promising to make change. 
Lord, I surrender. I cannot do it all, and when I try, I fail miserably. When I don't immediately fail, I put my capacity before your Grace and get things all mixed up. I don't like it either way. I'm setting aside capacity in search of sweet peace.

That’s my new list; my playbook for balance of the year. It’s out there now. What’s on your list? Are you brave enough to post it? Are you brave enough to share it with me, or with anyone, to keep accountable?  

We can only fail if we try to go it alone.

"Dream a dream so big that unless God intervenes it will fail." Hudson Taylor
I'm linking up with the Christian Mommy Bloggers and with Laura at Missional Women
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Content in whatever state I am…(reposted from 7.1.11)


I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity;
Philippians 4
:11

So many of my friends are struggling right now...career challenges, family challenges, health challenges, fighting doubt and defeat. I may not tell you my troubles, but I know struggle. I remember how sad I felt when I wrote this; though it's a summer story, I pray it will encourage you on this first day of Spring. Know that God desires you to be joyful, even when it's difficult. Just remember, sometimes you have to fight for your joy....

I really should lay out on the floor and holler right now; I think I’ve earned it.  I called my mom to say that I was almost strong enough not to cry; I don’t think I sounded like the tears were falling, but they were. She probably knew, but didn’t say. She’s like that.  It’s been a rough day.    

I had my second car towed in two days, this time from somewhere around mile marker 109.1 on the Garden State Parkway.  I was calm, with two 10 year-old boys in the car, remaining upbeat and positive; quietly praying as I began to plan for the worst.  The worst did not happen.  We were able to safely pull over, and as we called AAA for help, both local authorities and our traveling companions pulled up.  The kids are at the beach; the car is at the mechanic’s; I am safely home. 

Even as I vented to my BFF, I was clear that I am abundantly blessed.  It could’ve been worse.  Even as I cry about it now, I know my blessing is just beyond my ability to see it.  Despite today, and yesterday, I have learned to be content in whatever state I am.  I am a little beaten up…but not beaten down.  I am a little bruised, but still conscious and able to fight.  I am staggering, but I haven’t fallen down. 

I’ll be fine.  And I can cry if I want to, because tears are prayers too.   I am allowed to be content and a little sad at the same time, all while glorifying God.  Because between tears and contentment, I am abundantly blessed.  And each and every blessing is further evidence that God is Good.  

On Wednesdays, I pray and play here...
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About me... Growing up Baptist a fourth generation preacher’s kid, Chelle married an Anglican. She boldly seeks God, and thanks her Dad for encouraging her to embrace Theology and chase Truth. Fiercely private, she enjoys two public worship forms, liturgical dance and writing. Dance freed her, providing a language for expression beyond words. Dance is her prayer language. Writing is humbling, sometimes terrifying, always enlightening. Hers is a quirky but reverent perspective on God and Grace. She started blogging to replace a big job that went away. Formerly a Human Resources Executive in the entertainment industry, she suddenly became a Stay-At-Home-Mom, not entirely by choice. Writing started as something to do, but evolved into an ongoing journey to draw nigh to The One. She and her beloved husband have two beautiful children, a gorgeous Boxer, and 20 years of wedded bliss. She maintains a joyous relationship with the Creator, even as she learns difficult lessons while hearing His loving laughter on the wind. Director of Community Engagement and a regular contributor at www.CirclesofFaith.org, she writes for Christ Centered Home Magazine.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Paradox of Good Friday…



When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminalsone on his right, the other on his left.  Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Luke 23:33-34 (NIV)


         

No one is clear on the origins of the phrase “Good Friday,” but I can appreciate the paradox. God became man, took upon Himself the sins of the world, knowing that our redemption could only be assured by blood sacrifice. As Paul wrote in his letter to Ephesus,

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…Ephesians 1:7 (NIV)




I have my own Good Friday paradox. My memory for some facts and events, at least among my family and friends, is legendary. I do not remember the date of my grandfather’s passing, after a long brave battle with a thoracic aortic aneurysm, except to say that is was on the morning of Good Friday. As I prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection each year, my joy in tempered by personal sadness. I celebrate God’s victory over the grave while suffering the personal and lingering pain of profound loss. It was the only Easter I did not commemorate in corporate worship, remaining at home instead, steeling myself to walk into the very sanctuary in which we should have worshipped, instead preparing to say a final goodbye.


This year Good Friday falls on what would have been my dad’s 80th birthday. Birthdays are good, but as time passes, I mark yet another year without the sound of his voice, the warmth of his embrace, questions he’ll ever answer, conversations we’ll never share. Though I prepare for great joy to come on Sunday, the paradox of Good Friday is clear to me.


My personal joy comes in the blessed assurance that my sorrowful goodbyes are not the end of the story, and I would not have that assurance without the Passion of the Cross. My personal Good Friday paradox is a study in Grace. My personal Good Friday paradox is a lesson in faith. If I believe, then even through my tears, I do not weep like those who have no hope. 


"Dear Lord, I come before You humbled by the sacrifice You made for me by giving up Your one and only Son so that I could have a relationship with You." Lord, thank you for Redemption. Thank You for Grace. Thank You that though I miss my father and grandfather, I appreciate the sacrifice, as it takes me back to Your great gift. Like You with Your Only Begotten Son, I have not said the last goodbye. In You, through You, I can say through my tears...
Dad, Papa-‘tll we meet again, Happy Easter.
Today I'm linking with Deidra Riggs at the Sunday Community

Saturday, March 30, 2013

When you’ve got nothing to say…


It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
Deuteronomy 13:4 (NIV)


When I began writing, I relied upon God to grant me the words. Only then would I write. I start with scripture to remain grounded, to ensure my message stays connected, to ensure that my message is bigger than me. (To ensure that it isn’t about me). When words won’t come, I cannot force them. It never comes out right. You see, they aren’t my words. I believe the words are a gift I must share. So when I’ve got nothing to say, I don’t.

Lately, the conversation online has been around the writers inclination to become distracted by traffic (or the lack thereof), page views (or the lack thereof), the number of followers or FB likes we receive (or long for). I am human. I covet (there, I said it). But, since I can’t make traffic, and since I cannot interfere with the Will of God, I have learned (I am learning) to be patient. I don’t like being patient, but I am clear that God’s Will is larger than what I like. His Plans are better and I’m bound to follow them. It does not mean I don’t occasionally wander away from His Path, but He does always gently bring me back. 
When you've got nothing
to say, you should be silent.
CLICK AND TWEET SOME ENCOURAGEMENT

Friday, March 29, 2013

Broken (Five Minute Friday)


Broken (Five Minute Friday)

Mi familia, my writing sisters and I, my  tribe, we stay up way too late to write en masse. We start with one word and it’s off to the races. It’s not easy, and we have rules. You should try it sometime, or at least read what my lovelies put on the page.  Welcome to Five Minute Friday. STOP, DROP, and WRITE!!!

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking (harder than it sounds)
2. Link back 
here and invite others to join in.
3. Visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? Come on and join the fun!


The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 (NASB)

GO:

Broken. This is easy. I used to be afraid of broken. I used to bemoan days when I felt broke down, but never admitted to being broken. I believed broken was a bad thing. Broken is the best thing that ever happened to me.

I used to be afraid of being broken
until God showed me that
Broken was beautiful.
I didn’t have a OneWord for last year, but when I looked back over the last 12 months of my life, I realized that the word was surrendered. And then, in December, it came to me; fully formed; all in one thought. The next level, the deeper state of Grace I was seeking, came in admitting that I was BROKEN. Irreparably BROKEN. And broken is beautiful. 

Broken was the place at which I meet God anew. Broken was the point in my life where I admitted, forever, that I was nothing without Him. Nothing. Broken was the point at which I realized that I could go on, but could never go forward without this Grace. Without this admission. Without this realization.

Broken bread fed more than a single load could. Broken pieces are useless without a powerful force knitting them back together. Broken people do not go on without The One. I used to be afraid of being broken until God showed me that Broken was beautiful.

STOP:


I'm linking up with Lisa Jo Baker, the Christian Mommy Bloggers and with Laura at Missional Women

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Weary


My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. 
Psalm 62:1 (NASB)


When I have pushed too hard, rested not enough, carried more than I should, I feel tired. I know tired. Tired means taking time to rest. Tired puts her feet up. Tired takes a warm bath and goes to bed early. Today I am not tired. Today I am weary.

Weary feels like too much broken glass, shards flying everywhere. Weary spills tears without warning. Weary craves quiet, while tired doesn’t so much mind the din. Tired appreciates the blue of midday skies, weary is just plain blue. 


I’m hearing Billie Holliday in my head, “Good morning, heartache.” Billie could turn a phrase, speaking to pain like an intruder in the room. I don’t want to talk to my blues, I want them gone.
I’m just wallowing in being human. Lately, I am paralyzed by my humanness.  My soul knows that all is well, and that the peace that passes understanding soon comes, but right now I need a break.  I’ve grown weary. Weary is an empty cup, and Lord I beg You for an infilling.

In my weariness, I will be silent. Lord, send me stillness so I can hear from you. There has been too much noise, and I am way past tired. My soul finds rest in You alone, Lord, so with the last ounce of strength I believe I have, I run to You. Even in my weariness…

On Thursdays, I pray and and play with friends here...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Motherhood as a state of Grace…(the threshing floor)


Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
Psalms 127:3 (NLT)

My Gayle and I were talking about the frustrations of motherhood this morning. It is a popular theme among my friends. We are high achievers. We like to do things well. We have spectacular mothers, and struggle with doing and being to our own children what they are to us; despite our world being vastly different than theirs…but we try. 
we should treat our children
(loved ones, friends, the world),
like Jesus treats us.
  Motherhood is the ultimate expression of WWJD…
TWEET SOME LOVE

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

typical and ordinary...


You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is  a broken spirit;

    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.
Psalms 51:16-17 (NIV)

I left typical living behind nearly 5 years ago. Atypical is better. Five years ago I lived the life I’d imagined; an interesting and vibrant career, volunteer opportunities within my community, a little money to burn, easy children, a healthy husband, not too much, but more than enough reason to feel blessed. I still feel blessed, but I left typical living behind nearly 5 years ago. 

Without warning, life dumped me on my head. Hearing my granny’s voice, I reminded myself that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I picked myself up, squared my shoulders, brushed the dust off my bruised ego and, walking away from the ashes of my former life, reinvented myself. I like me better now. It’s not that old me wasn’t wonderful; she was merely untested. I’ve had tests. Now I have testimonies. 

Do I see God in the middle of the small and ordinary? Daily. Sometimes moment by moment. Without the distractions of my so-called typical life, I see more God because I pay greater attention. It is not that He wasn’t always there; surely He Abides. I did not maintain sufficient clarity and closeness to consistently pay attention. Sometimes God prunes us in order to prepare for blooming.  Occasionally, God choses to take what might seem like everything away that we might remember from whence our provisions and our God-sized dreams come. I am changed. I never want to live typical again.

What I couldn’t know was that He’d break me first.  I had more of some things to give 5 years ago, the burnt offerings I thought He’d desire. He wanted me. Broken. More than just surrendered, stilled, leaning on His Everlasting Arms.  Things that I’d seen before looked different, because I was seeing differently. Things I’d heard before I heard again.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Submitting to obedience


And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
2 John 1:6 (NIV)

According to whatChristiansknow.com,
How does one actively engage in the presence of God?
By becoming obedient. By lovingly, involuntarily walking in
obedience to His commands.
And finding joy therein.
CLICK, TWEET, SHARE
The Biblical word for “obey” comes from the Greek “hupakou” which means to listen attentively; by implication to heed or conform to a command or authority. This word conveys the idea of actively following a command. There is no choice in the matter, it is to be done whether one agrees with it or not. Obedience is involuntary.

Submission is a choice, albeit not a simple one. Submission comes of recognizing the incontrovertible sovereignty of God, and acknowledging that His is The Way. Submission was not easy, but I have embraced it, and thrive therein. I spend my days in worshipful submission, and it is good.

But I wanted to go deeper. So, when our pastor called for a 7 day Daniel Fast in corporate consecration before Holy Week, I was in. I wanted to go deeper. I heeded the call to be obedient, and as I approach the final day, I declare this call a rich blessing.

I know this experience is different for me. Except for close friends and family, I didn’t discuss it. It wasn’t about impressing anybody, or letting anybody know, it was about heeding a call to obey. To be part of something larger than me. To truly be part of the Ecclesia, making of myself an offering, to see what might be learned.

I earnestly asked God to enlarge my territory. But faith is more than the ask. Faith is relational. So, what am I willing to render? I pledge my love, by way of walking in obedience. It was only a step, but bless God, I made it. As I approach the last day of this commitment, I am content. Not once did I consider wavering. Not once did I consider taking a shortcut. As I planned my menus and those for my family (I fasted alone), I prayerfully considered the bounty and provision that allowed me to choose and be creative. I ate things I hadn’t eaten in a very long time; and tried several things for the first time. Crafting my menus was an act of worshipful obedience. Shopping for and preparing food was a sacred act.  Would that I could carry this into the rest of my life.

What would you render? For what are you willing to submit to obedience? Is it in pursuit of a particular goal, the achievement of a singular dream? Or, is it simply a desire to go deeper? I wanted to go deeper. I was willing to submit to obedience to improve my relationship with The One. I walk away with a sense of accomplishment, and a desire to stay close; to move closer.

Just the other day, in checking in on the commitments I made for the year, I wrote this…
Lord, let me evolve to the place where I am not thinking about but actively engaging in Your Presence. Consistently. Once, I called it hiding, and promised that you’ll still be able to see me. Well, I’ve changed my mind. I’m moving. I’m moving into actively practicing the presence of God. And I’m staying….

How does one actively engage in the presence of God? By becoming obedient. By lovingly, involuntarily walking in obedience to His commands. And finding joy therein.

And so, may His Grace, Mercy, and Peace be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Son of the Father, in truth and love, Amen.
On Mondays, I pray and play with friends here...


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Only God…(a reprint, just because)


God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them..
Genesis 1:27 (NASB95)

(whom do you write for? why do you do what you do?)


I had every intention of participating in FMF today, particularly after last week. However, during my morning prayers/AM exercise/dog walk, something came into my head that had to get out.  It wasn’t what I’d planned to write, and that may be part of it. I don’t plan to write. It comes, and then has to get out-whispered words from The Universe that must be shared. Here goes… (Dedicated to and inspired by CD, with profound gratitude)

Gya Nyame Presence of God, or “God alone”
The Adinkra symbol Gye Nyame is on a ring 
I have always worn on my right hand. Adinkra symbols, 
originating in Ghana, West Africa symbolize virtues, 
folk tales and proverbs, animals, and even historical events.  
Most are very old, having been passed down through generations of craftsmen.
Yesterday I had a long conversation with a wise and generous stranger, whom I pray will become a mentor and friend, about my writing. She challenged me to think about to whom and for whom I write. A logical and straightforward question; one posed often by writers to broaden their reach, enlarge their territory, strike it rich. Who is your audience? You should know who reads your words if you want them to do so regularly, embracing your efforts, supporting your endeavors, be friends, subscribers, people who buy your books.  My answer wasn’t quite what I anticipated.  You see, I write for me.

Who am I? I am an American woman (African-American).  I married my first love nearly 20 years ago, and am fortunate to have brought forth and raised with him two extraordinary people (our daughter and son) who changed our lives and will change the world. At nearly 50 I have a living mother and grandmother, and though my father died nearly 15 years ago, he still looms large and hovers close, as his guiding spirit informs my writing. Dad, even now, I measure words with you in mind.

Who am I? There is an essay or a book on that very subject which I will never write, because for all that I reveal I am perfectly content to be a bit of a cipher, among other things.  (By the way, there is an essay or book for everyone who has ever asked the question, Who am I? It’s so not about me.) But as to the question, who am I? I am flawed and frail, but made in the Perfect Image of God. I write for everybody (me).

It then occurred to me along this prayerexercisedogwalk, that God is our mirror. Wikipedia defines mirror as something which “reflects light or sound in a way that preserves much of its original.”  Mirrors do not change (nor does God) but what we bring to mirrors (physically, spiritually) greatly informs the images we see. Our images in the mirror will change over time, but the mirror never will. Believing that we were created in the image of God, we are all the same.  That’s why I write (for me). I write for God.

CD, when and if you’re reading this, know that I am off to develop a marketing plan, and to think more about how to do what I’d like to do next. And finally, know that I am forever indebted to you for the good you put into the Universe in my direction. I will pay if forward.

Yesterday I had a long conversation with a wise and generous stranger. She blessed and challenged me. I am excited and encouraged; renewed. Now I have to figure out how to get my words in front of the people I’d like to read them. To embrace them.  To be transformed by them, as they transform me. I’ve got a lot to do, and that “having a lot to do” is today’s lesson.  Today’s evidence that God is Good.

Today I am praying and playing with Sandra Heska King in StillSaturday... 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Re-checking the list; checking in…


Plans fail for lack of counsel,
    but with many advisers they succeed.
Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

Before the end of last year, I pledged to be better; more intentional; more consistent, by creating a list and making myself accountable. I also pledged to put it out there, to declare it to the Universe, just I case anyone was listening.  As I mentioned at my last check in, in some areas I’ve made consistent progress, but as always, Lord knows I have work to do.

As I said originally, this commitment is so much larger than just doing things better. I want to stretch towards my God-granted potential. It’s time. I understand the Prayer of Jabez differently, and cannot afford to spend time wasting in my comfort zone. He numbers our days, but we are not privy to the number. It is, therefore, our obligation to live the best of our lives every day.   

1-Always a roast chicken in the fridge-RETIRED
I have retired the first item on my list. It’s become a consistent habit, and I am proud.

                1- Always pause before speaking, breathe more, talk less, and consciously stop interrupting.
Two, three, and four have become one, under the heading of listening better. Just this week, I had a conversation with my beautiful, wise, and wonderful first born. She was expressing some frustration with being understood, and I remembered the words of Steven Covey,
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Image borrowed from here
which you should read,

image by D Sharon Pruit

It was good advice for her, and it’s great advice for me. Learning to be a better listener is not just practical; there is also a spiritual component. If I am listening to the One, I must be still, silent, surrendered, and humbled. So, let’s make that number 2.
2- Remember to be still, silent, surrendered, and humble.

The last time I checked my list, I only dealt with the first 4. Looking at the balance, I need to refocus; I’ve got work to do.
3-Keep my living room clean (this needs WORK)
Granny would have a piece of me if she walked into my house right now. I’ve allowed the kids to drop and run, and we’re all guilty. When someone stops in unexpectedly, I immediately feel tense, and embarrassed. It’s not a good feeling, and it doesn’t take much to get it in right. Having a clean entryway shapes first impressions, and mine need work. I am at ease when there is order, and I am out of order. I commit to making this a priority.

4-Meditate, with my body at rest, at least 30 minutes daily.
I have not made the kind of time for myself, for my spirit, that benefits me or my family. I am still not good at slowing down, but have reaped the benefits of rest. I want more. I still pray and meditate while walking the dog each morning, but that’s moving meditation. I need still meditation because that is good for all of me, mind, body, spirit, and I’m going to get about it.

5-Actively practice the presence of God (more, more, MORE)
I’ve grown here, but I can never grow enough. Lord, let me evolve to the place where I am not thinking about but actively engaging in Your Presence. Consistently. Once, I called it hiding, and promised that you’ll still be able to see me. Well, I’ve changed my mind. I’m moving. I’m moving into actively practicing the presence of God. And I’m staying….

6-Organize at least one thing every month (EPIC FAIL)
I just have not made this a priority; I’ve got to do better. No excuses. I do have great advice from Holley Gerth on making changes to my life. Read the book, but remember this, “don’t go big, go smaller…

7- Remember that although life is scary, pray, breathe, and dance anyway; oh and anything that doesn’t defeat you ISN’T scary. (in progress)
Last year taught me surrender. I came away blessedly broken, reminded forever that it’s not possible to do it alone (without God AND without a supportive and loving community). I also came away with a sense of humor, so much strength, and a sense of fierceness that will not be denied. DANCE ANYWAY. Fear absolutely IS NOT the opposite of faith. DANCE ANYWAY. Deuteronomy 9:3 reminds us to “…be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire.” Daddy is ALL THAT, so you just dance. DANCE ANYWAY. We should focus on being faithful, even in our fear. DANCE ANYWAY. Fear is bad when it paralyzes you. It is bad when it threatens to separate you from the Love of God. He loves us even when we are afraid. Fear is powerful when it can motivate you, so, we need to remember to stay close.
7- Run three times a week.
It’s good for me, and I pray will I do it. Good for body and soul, literally. Easy peasy, done.

8- Consciously build community.
Joining the God-Sized Dream Team (which you should go and meet here), taught me the crucial, critical necessity of NOT REMAINING ISOLATED. I am committed to building my community, both where I can see it, and extending my network, under the heading of enlarging my territory.

9- Finish the book.
I’ve been consistently writing, and have about the first third done. I’m simultaneously writing a book proposal, since, having done my research, know that most non-fiction books get picked up, by agents, based upon my research. I can be done by the end of the year, but here’s a stretch goal…can I get an agent before the end of the year?

10-Remember, God is in control, Not you.
Thankfully, every day, this is my prayer. EVERY DAY.  I won’t be taking this off my list. And I will be leaving this prayer here, for me, for you, for anyone praying, promising to make change. 
Lord, I surrender. I cannot do it all, and when I try, I fail miserably. When I don't immediately fail, I put my capacity before your Grace and get things all mixed up. I don't like it either way. I'm setting aside capacity in search of sweet peace.

That’s my new list; my playbook for balance of the year. It’s out there now. What’s on your list? Are you brave enough to post it? Are you brave enough to share it with me, or with anyone, to keep accountable?  

We can only fail if we try to go it alone.

"Dream a dream so big that unless God intervenes it will fail." Hudson Taylor
I'm linking up with the Christian Mommy Bloggers and with Laura at Missional Women

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Content in whatever state I am…(reposted from 7.1.11)


I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity;
Philippians 4
:11

So many of my friends are struggling right now...career challenges, family challenges, health challenges, fighting doubt and defeat. I may not tell you my troubles, but I know struggle. I remember how sad I felt when I wrote this; though it's a summer story, I pray it will encourage you on this first day of Spring. Know that God desires you to be joyful, even when it's difficult. Just remember, sometimes you have to fight for your joy....

I really should lay out on the floor and holler right now; I think I’ve earned it.  I called my mom to say that I was almost strong enough not to cry; I don’t think I sounded like the tears were falling, but they were. She probably knew, but didn’t say. She’s like that.  It’s been a rough day.    

I had my second car towed in two days, this time from somewhere around mile marker 109.1 on the Garden State Parkway.  I was calm, with two 10 year-old boys in the car, remaining upbeat and positive; quietly praying as I began to plan for the worst.  The worst did not happen.  We were able to safely pull over, and as we called AAA for help, both local authorities and our traveling companions pulled up.  The kids are at the beach; the car is at the mechanic’s; I am safely home. 

Even as I vented to my BFF, I was clear that I am abundantly blessed.  It could’ve been worse.  Even as I cry about it now, I know my blessing is just beyond my ability to see it.  Despite today, and yesterday, I have learned to be content in whatever state I am.  I am a little beaten up…but not beaten down.  I am a little bruised, but still conscious and able to fight.  I am staggering, but I haven’t fallen down. 

I’ll be fine.  And I can cry if I want to, because tears are prayers too.   I am allowed to be content and a little sad at the same time, all while glorifying God.  Because between tears and contentment, I am abundantly blessed.  And each and every blessing is further evidence that God is Good.  

On Wednesdays, I pray and play here...

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